How to Open a Door Panel on a 1999 Passat

The door panel on a 1999 Volkswagen Passat is attached to the door skeleton with a variety of fasteners including steel screws, plastic trim panel clips, and self-contained flanges. This panel covers the entire door skeleton and must be completely removed in order to access the power window motor, door handle, and door lock mechanisms. In order properly remove this panel, you must follow a specific disassembly sequence. Neglecting to follow this sequence can cause damage to the door panel and the underlying door structure.


Flat-head screwdriver set
Phillips screwdriver set
Metric socket set
Trim panel stick
Rubber mallet


1. Rotate the ignition to the “OFF” position. Open the door and insert a small diameter flat-head screwdriver in between the plastic grip shell and the small rectangular panel on the inside edge of the grip shell. Pry the panel upwards and toward the door to remove it.

2. Pry the plastic grip shell out of the door panel with a flat-head screwdriver and unplug the electrical connector from the switch panel in the grip shell. Remove the three Phillips screws holding the grip panel to the door skeleton with a Phillips Screwdriver.

3. Locate the bolts along the bottom of the door panel and remove them using a ratchet and metric socket. Insert a trim panel stick in the lower left corner of the door between the door and the trim panel. Pry around the circumference of the door with the stick to disengage the plastic retaining clips. Grip the panel with two hands and lift it upward to disengage the upper panel flange from the window recess.

4. Remove the door latch cable from the handle mechanism and disconnect and remaining electrical connectors from the door panel. Remove the window seal at the top of the door lifting it up, and then completely remove the door panel.


1. Align the top of the door panel flange with the top edge of the door skeleton and reinstall the window recess seal. Reconnect any electrical connectors to the door panel and then reconnect the door latch cable to the door handle.

2. Line up the trim panel push pins on the back of the door panel with the holes in the door. Tap around the circumference of the door panel with a rubber mallet in order to seat the panel push pins.

3. Install the two bolts near the bottom of the trim panel with a ratchet and metric socket. Install the three Phillips screws near the grip panel with a Phillips screwdriver.

4. Reinstall the electrical connector on the back of the grip panel switch plate. Align the switch plate with the grip panel and gently press it down until it snaps into the grip panel. Align the small rectangular cover panel with the leading edge of the grip panel and press it down until it snaps into place. Verify that all the switches operate properly and that the panel doesn’t shake or make noise.


A trim panel stick is a small, fork-like tool that assists in separating the plastic trim panel push pins from the door skeleton without damaging the door or door panel. These sticks are available from most local auto parts stores.

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Filed in: Automotive

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